GARDINER — The two-year community planning project aimed at developing a new comprehensive plan for the city will take its first steps toward action with workshops to review the ideas.

The two workshops, 9 a.m. Saturday and 6 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 29 at Gardiner High School, aim to identify interest and potential leaders for implementing some of the ideas developed during the project.

The Heart & Soul project, funded by a $100,000 grant from the Orton Family Foundation, is set to end in the beginning of next year, so its organizers are looking to encourage community members to take ownership over things they want changed.

Meaghan Carlson, project coordinator, said she hopes people taking more responsibility will create a ripple effect in the community so others step up to help out.

“My whole goal of this project is really about community empowerment and getting people to remember that this is their community and they really have the power to get things done,” she said.

Participants at the two workshops will review the roughly 80 ideas developed by community members in several events and meetings throughout the year. The ideas, which will be split up between the two workshops, range from maintaining a community events listing to developing community gardens to studying the development of public transportation.

Organizers will ask participants with keypads to rate the impact and feasibility of the different ideas, and the results will be instantly projected on a screen in the theater.

“Some of these ideas are really big and some of them are really small and easy,” Carlson said. “The goal is to actually get actions from people. Nobody has to commit right away, but we want to get people thinking about it.”

In January, project organizers will hold a summit for community members and groups to step forward and take responsibility for accomplishing some of the ideas or speak about what they learned during the project, Carlson said.

The comprehensive plan, which will be used by city councilors or other local officials when deciding whether to make changes to zoning or other planning and development issues, is expected to be presented to City Council and approved by the end of the year.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663
[email protected]

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